A few weeks ago, I took over as head coach of a professional hockey team in the playoffs. The team had already lost their first two games in a best of seven series when I arrived. Whoever wins 4 games moves on to the next series, the other team is eliminated and their season ends.
I had 24 hours to decide whether I wanted to take on this challenge. Two years ago, I would have declined a challenge of this magnitude. The odds were against us, in this particular instance we were playing the defending champions.
My reason for accepting the challenge is I spent most of my life playing it safe, minimizing as much risk as possible. I tried to control as much as I could in my environment. The need for control is a result of feeling a lack of internal stability; fear is the dominant emotion. Controlling depletes you, you are rarely in a relaxed state when you are constantly trying to control your environment.
Today I understand why I felt the way I did. I grew up in an environment where security, love and self-expression were not encouraged; meeting these needs are essential for healthy childhood development. As a child if your need for security, self-worth and belonging are not met, the world around you appears threatening. This explains why most of my life I felt anxious and why I needed to control my surroundings.
So back to my reason for making the choice! We all need security and certainty but learning to live with uncertainty will make you feel vibrant and alive. When you step out of your comfort zone, you are growing and one important factor in feeling fulfilled is growth. One way you know you are making progress is by the choices you make. When you start seeing the opportunity in situations you avoided in the past in order to not experience pain, you are making progress. To go a step further, a breakthrough happens when something appears impossible to you suddenly becomes possible. You start to see what you can gain rather than the pain you might experience.
What happened is we lost in 5 games, winning game 4 on the road, in the opponent’s rink and loosing game 5 at home. We were down 5-2 with 5 minutes to go in game 5. We climbed back, scoring 2 goals and missed an open net near the end of the game, this would have tied the game at 5-5.
Do I see the choice I made as the wrong one because we lost?
Absolutely not! The experience I gained from being in the uncertainty of the situation made me grow! I need to show courage in order to lead others. I have gained more confidence and I trust myself more as a result.
If we would encourage our children to make more mistakes and be comfortable with uncertainty; we would empower them to grow and discover their own inner resources.
We are all capable of becoming a greater version of who we presently are. My purpose is to create a life where I feel fulfilled and alive; to do that I need to challenge my very own beliefs about what is possible.
We have far more potential than we are thought to believe!
Here is a story I read to illustrate what I mean!
A long time ago in a remote valley, there lived a farmer. One day he got tired of the daily routine of running the farm and decided to climb the cliffs that brooded above the valley to see what lay beyond.
He climbed all day until he reached a ledge just below the top of the cliff; there, to his amazement was a nest, full of eggs.
Immediately he knew they were eagle’s eggs and, even though he knew it was profoundly un-ecological and almost certainly illegal, he carefully took one and stowed it in his pack; then seeing the sun was low in the sky, he realized it was too late in the day to make the top and slowly began to make his way down the cliff to his farm.
When he got home he put the egg in with the few chickens he kept in the yard. The mother hen was the proudest chicken you ever saw, sitting atop this magnificent egg; and the cockerel couldn’t have been prouder.
Sure enough, some weeks later, from the egg emerged a fine, healthy egret. And as is in the gentle nature of chickens, they didn’t balk at the stranger in their midst and raised the majestic bird as one of their own.
So it was that the eagle grew up with its brother and sister chicks. It learned to do all the things chickens do: it clucked and cackled, scratching in the dirt for grits and worms, flapping its wings furiously, flying just a few feet in the air before crashing down to earth in a pile of dust and feathers.
It believed resolutely and absolutely it was a chicken.
One day, late in its life, the eagle-who-thought-he-was-a-chicken happened to look up at the sky. High overhead, soaring majestically and effortlessly on the thermals with scarcely a single beat of its powerful golden wings, was an eagle!
What’s that?!, cried the old eagle in awe. It’s magnificent! So much power and grace! It’s beautiful!
That’s an eagle, replied a nearby chicken, That’s the King of the Birds. It’s a bird of the air… not for the likes of us. We’re only chickens, we’re birds of the earth.
With that, they all cast their eyes downwards once more and continued digging in the dirt.
And so it was that the eagle lived and died a chicken… because that’s all it believed itself to be.
If you believe yourself to be more than just what you have been told, that is when you begin to discover you have wings to fly!
Sharing to Grow!